Category Archives: Sustainability

“The seemingly impossible is possible”

(and it’s not a sports brand’s slogan)

 I wish I had the time to write up my impressions about this video – but the thesis is eating all my energy away! So I’ll just say, watch this video. Really. Make sure you watch it till the end. 

And, related to this, check out the great tool going online (hmm, also acquired by Google, as all great web-based tools have recently been) – http://tools.google.com/gapminder/

I’m so inspired I’ll email my Uni professor back in Ukraine to let him know about the tool – and hope he’ll use it!

P.S. I just checked Ukraine vs. Poland from 1990 until the present day. That’s quite a sad picture (for a Ukrainian). You can see the two countries starting almost exactly at the same point, and then Poland just going full speed ahead…

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PR the Dutch Way

Dutch people are known for always telling it like it is and for legalizing marijuana, prostitution and gay marriages. You’d think there is little else this liberal country can surprise the world with. And yet they did.

You might have heard about the Big Donor Show aired on Dutch TV last month. The idea of the programme (made by the TV channel which invented the Big Brother show) was in having three patients in need of a kidney transplant compete against each other. The final decision on who will get her kidney was made by a terminally ill woman who was shown throughout the program. TV viewers could sms their preferences (think of American Idol for patients).

Boy did that show create a stir! Dutch society was split over the morality of such show; the Prime Minister expressed concern, and some politicians suggested the show be banned. Holland made international headlines for the first time since I-don’t-know-when. I only realized how big the thing was when my granny told me over the phone “she heard there was something weird going on on TV in the Netherlands”.

Well, I didn’t watch the show, but many people did, although even more people claimed they would not watch it because it was unethical. The show made international headlines the next day again – this time with a different tone. It had all been a hoax, aimed at drawing attention to the very real problem of lack of organ donors and long waiting lines for transplants in the Netherlands. The potential donor was an actress, while the three patients were real patiens waiting for a kidney transplant. This was revealed live on TV at the moment when she was about to announce “the winner”.

Wow. The public was stunned. Beautiful execution of the stunt left critics speechless. Talk about putting a name to your cause! Now, there is still debate about how ethical the show was. So far over 20 thousand people downloaded a donor form as a direct result of the show. And there are more coming, so the officials say the real effect can only be estimated in about two months. But it is already clear that a very worthy cause was put high on the public agenda, urging thousands of people to take immediate action. I take my hat off to BNN.

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Dutch gas company being user-friendly

This brochure on gas safety has a “scratch-and-sniff’ spot to teach people about what gas smells like. Great idea: very simple and, what is important, easy to understand by people whose mother tongue is not Dutch (the message about the free helpline number is provided in several languages).

P.S. You can also “sniff” it online!

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“Everything was better back when everything was worse”

Recently I got hooked up on the TED Talks – a series of lectures on a range of topics (going beyond the Technology, Entertainment, and Design subjects suggested by the name of the conference). To me, this is what Internet IS (ok, should be!) about – disseminating knowledge that would otherwise be available to the privileged few. I am posting one of my favorite talks below, but there are so many more intriguing, inspiring topics to explore!

 This one is by Barry Schwartz, a Sociology professor who also wrote a book about “The Paradox of Choice”. He argues that the abundance of choice created in modern industrial societies is not making us better off. On the contrary, it is actually having a negative impact on our lives!

The video is 20 minutes, and I highly recommend you make time to watch it…

Some memorable thoughts from the video: 

  • “Opportunity costs substract from the satisfaction of what we choose, even when what we choose is terrific”
  • “The secret to happiness is low expectations”
  • And the conclusion is this: “There’s no question that some choice is better than none. But it doesn’t follow from that that more choice is better than some choice”.  

It is especially interesting to watch as a (future) marketeer. It is the idea of “choice confusion” which has been raised in the academia, articulated clearly and convincingly. But it is also relevant to someone interested in politics and sustainable development: Barry argues that a global redistribution of wealth would not only help the poor countries, but also the so-called developed world!

And finally, it is a good watch for anyone interested in living a happy balanced life in these crazy times…

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Filed under Inspiration, Marketing, Sustainability, Technology